Category Archives: No Guts No Glory

No Return

trapezeGo back.

That’s the thought that rolls on through my brain this morning like a steam engine, black, sooty and old.   Usually it comes when I am tired or weak, before sleep or as I wake:  Is it possible to go back?  The answer comes quickly:  No.  No, I can’t.

For centuries people have told stories that at their core are about returning to What Was Once.  Probably before stories of Hera renewing her virginity, time travel stories have intrigued us.  The desire to go back and fix our mistakes or to relive what we remember as “wonderful” is not uncommon.  The Time Machine, Groundhog day, The Navigator; A Medieval Odyssey, Back to the Future, 12 Monkeys, A Christmas Carol — the list of time travel tales is endless.   All are stories searching for that one moment the fatal flaw was committed, with the hope it can be changed, avoided or relived in the future.

But what about the moments when we sense being on the cusp of change and “know” that our one act, one willful choice, will change it all?  Warnings pop off in the head. Quick visions see beyond the now and we choose, sometimes within seconds.  Wrong or right, we choose.

It makes me think of Judas.  Poor guy had no choice, or did he?  He was driven to his infamous, predestined decision.  After the kiss, did he know the regret instantly? Was there another choice he could have made to redeem himself?  I wonder how many times he wished to turn back time. When he let the rope snap — did he wish then that he could take steps back?

Maybe it’s more like an accident and not a choice, say, when you cut your finger, crash your car, or when your foot slips and you see yourself fall down the stairs as though watching, while at the same time enduring the pain of it.  And the strange part is — it’s like you saw it coming, but you did it anyway.   It’s at that moment you become so aware of the seconds before that thought you had just as you did the wrong thing.  Too late.  And you KNEW, but despite the warning in your head…

You did it anyway.

The finger is cut, the blood flows and as the search for the bandage ensues, you curse at yourself for being an idiot.  You knew it was going to be this way and your mind trips backwards thinking about that moment when it you could have avoided it. Damn it.

I have countless moments when I could have chosen differently, but didn’t.

I could have said, “Yes.” I could have brought the cat inside.  I could have gone to the doctor.  I could have saved the money.  I could have gotten up earlier.  I could have drank tea instead of wine.  I could have turned off Facebook.  I could have stayed home.  I could have bought the ticket.  I could have accepted that scholarship. I could have stayed in college (the first time).  I could have studied my ass off.   I could have exercised. I could have eaten right.  I could have stayed out of that bar.  I could have kept my temper.  I could have worked harder. I could have stayed in Hollywood.  I could have left the relationship.  I could have organized my time.  I could have said, “no.”  I could have not sent that email.  I could have kept my mouth shut.  I could have yelled for help.  I could have told the boy, “No.” And the other boy, “no.”  I could have been brave.  I could have been smart.

But I wasn’t and I didn’t.

Though something in my mind told me, warned me, yelled at me in a whisper:  “You are really going to regret this….  just sayin’…”   I heard pain was coming, but…  I saw in a flash of clarity what might happen and — well — you know.  You’ve been there.  We’ve all done it.  Not that there is any comfort knowing that.

Then I wonder, and maybe you do, too — Did I want it to happen? Faced with the moment of no return — did I choose to take that step so that I could reach something beyond what I couldn’t yet see, beyond my visions, but felt was there?

I feel it.  It’s as real as this floor under my feet, more relative than this chair under my ass.  Do I choose my mistakes in an attempt to teeter forward with the hope I’ll catch “it” (whatever comes next) like a cold, a pop-fly, or a trapeze bar?  Sometimes, it’s as if I can feel (whatever it is)  swinging toward me and yet untrained as a circus acrobat, all I can do stumble and hope that if I fall just right, I might catch hold, grab that bar and fly! But if I fall — damn it,  I fall.

There might be a net, but I never know.  I think I knit the net as I go along.  That part is all in slow motion. Regardless, the knitting of a false sense of safety is not the same idea as time travel.  I still can’t go back.  There is no return.

Even if 95% of me wanted to stay on the side of time I know — where it seems safe, where I have adapted — I can’t change that moment I made up my mind.  Within a millisecond, after years of trying to not let myself face my own thoughts, I made that choice.

Fate.  Damned fate.

Or Faith?  Blessed faith?  Either way — neither changes the truth.

Falling now …

 


Revelation

I am not quite sure why it took me so long to understand this, but I think I finally understand what confidence is and why it’s important.

Don’t laugh.  Seriously.  I admit that I’ve been slow to learn this.  (Maybe not slow — maybe just in love with the false security of doubt as a form of caution).

Confidence, as I understand it, is the act of doing something that stretches the boundaries of what seems safe and secure.   It’s the conscious aim toward one’s vision, goal, or dream, despite warnings and humiliation along the way.  Confidence is the baby who bounces off the corner of a coffee table, yet bruises and all, gets back up to give it another go.  Some might laugh at the baby.  Others might swoop over, pick up the baby and coddle it. (Confidence Destroyers).  But the baby knows the desire to walk, that it is worth the effort and won’t be satisfied with pity or put off by laughter.  The goal is worth the scratches and knots on the forehead.  Confidence is not questioning all the little steps it takes to get there.

And it’s not bragging or moaning about what could or should be.  It’s just doing.  Everyday.  Creating, doing, living and dusting one’s self off and doing it again.

I’ve been told “Be confident” for years now and my non-vocalized response was: “What am I supposed to do? Pretend I’m something I’m not?”

Today’s answer: “Yeah. Pretty much.”

I misunderstood the phrase: “Fake it ’til you make it.”  The correct phrase is , “SHAKE it ’til you make it.”

Shake the rattle.

Shake it until you find the job, the home, the love you’ve searched for.

Shake it until you lose the final 10 pounds.

Shake it until what you shake makes music.

Shake it, write and rewrite until you finally have a good story to tell.

Shake it and trust that the borders of safety and security are always present, always there.  The failure comes when the sounds of fear and doubt become louder than the sound of your rattle.  So shake it harder.


Inspiration From the Big, Bad Wolf

if-you-want-to-know-what-god-thinks-of-money-just-look-at-the-people-he-gave-it-to-dorothy-parkerI intended to write more after the kids and I had dinner, but felt I needed to catch up on another of the Oscar nominated movies I had not seen.  The film I chose:  The Wolf of Wall Street.

I forget sometimes that I am trying to write something that feels like a movie.  Experiencing one from the audience point of view inspires and refreshes me.  The test is whether I forget where I am as I watch.  If I am conscious of performance, of the deliberate manner of angles, lighting, etc., then I’m not emotionally connected with the characters or the story.  Conversely, sometimes a story is so emotionally upsetting I pull back and resist the film’s “good” qualities.  I don’t want to be part of it, not even as an audience.

Secondly, I watch to glean an understanding of what sells and why.  I look for the catalyst, the “set pieces” — all the best moments used for the trailers and the movie posters that sell to the audience.  I look for the character and for the theme that resonates in the end.  “The Wolf” and its theme left a nasty taste in my mouth.

I thought I could watch it with my sons — but, uh, no.  Not the kind of movie a pre-teen boy wants to watch with his mother sitting nearby.  Shoot — I could barely take watching it alone.  Though the film’s presumed protagonist, Jordon Belfort, turned my stomach, I tried to look at it from a writer’s perspective.  Could I write something like this?  Maybe.  It was an adaptation, so, yeah — maybe I could.  If someone offered to pay me — then definitely, yes. ( I certainly would try).  But if it had not been an adaptation, could I create a story like this?  No.  I don’t think so.  I’d hate the characters too much.

The film bothered me.  Not because of the writing, directing, the performances — all those things were great, fine — whatever.  But the story of a horrible human being — is just so — ick.  I’m glad now that Leo DiCaprio didn’t win an Oscar for the role. (Though many of the scenes were fabulous — the “lemmon” quaaludes scene — hysterical, wonderful).

But if DiCaprio had won, it would have also been a reward for Jordon Belfort.  And for what?  For being the biggest drug and sex addicted,  greedy dick ever? Who would want to do that?   If he is an example of how the uber rich live and act — then I understand why Jesus said it would be so hard for them to get into heaven.  Even if you don’t believe in heaven and hell, this guy illustrated Christ’s point.

But here’s the part that really  bugged me about the film:  Halfway through it I found myself agreeing with Belfort as he revved up his room of salespeople.  I caught myself feeling pumped and inspired by his sales pitch.  That pissed me off.  Brilliant stuff. (Similar to Alec Baldwin’s speech in Glengary, Glenn Ross.)

If the film has truth to it, then I admire Belfort’s hutzpah, his drive, his will, his complete confidence.  Other than that — what a scumbag. (The film’s dialogue describes him as such, too.)  A scum sucking low life.  A total piece of shit for a human being.  I wanted to slap him.  I wanted to slap the women in his life, too.  (Women — why do we allow ourselves to be bought and sold? WHY?)

After I finished watching the 180 minute long film, I did a bit of research about Belfort.  He has sobered up and straightened up his life, that’s what his and other websites say; that’s what the movie said, too.  And no surprise, he is selling his brand new “ethical” self.   My father has a saying, “if you can’t grow vertically, grow horizontally.”  Belfort has switched directions and knows how to sell it.  I admire his ability to adapt. But would I trust this guy for advice?  Would I PAY this guy for advice?  No.

His message is the same new age message offered in  The Secret, Notes From the Universe, and by Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, and countless other Gurus out there. There is no shortage of tips and platitudes.  Clean, straight and sober or drunk, wasted and filthy rich, it’s not necessary to pay some guy like Belfort. Besides, good advice is only good if practiced daily.  Transformation takes time and determination.  The time is shortened if cut in half by determination.  Speaking of one’s philosophy isn’t enough.  Accept the challenge of a dream or don’t.  Believe or don’t.  Sit or stand.  Walk or run. Faith or doubt.  The choices are daily.

I confess I do have a favorite Belfort quote: “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”   He is absolutely right.  But other than that,  integrity matters more than money.  I’m glad the Academy voters felt the same way.


Everyone Who’s Anyone: The Confession.

My daughter, who recently endured a very tough Master’s Class with a renowned vocal performer (yes, she/he will remain nameless), sent me this video link today:

Jon Nakamatsu’s “Loser’s Club”

Keep playing.  Keep Singing.  Keep writing.  Run the race.


What the Doctor Ordered:

“nice guys” finish last.

The link above is without a doubt one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever read and THE VERY THING I needed to read tonight.  Thank you Ms. Adams for posting.

I’ve whined long enough.

Simple A, B, C’s….

Ciao for now.


The Fight

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An update to my “letter” post.

It goes like this for me, maybe it is the same for you:  I get so down, I feel as though I will never get up again. Then, the next day — I want to fight.

But first, I have to whine about it, moan about, write about.  I talk to whomever will listen.  And if they don’t want to hear it?  Doesn’t matter.  I will spill it, I will send that email, I will write that post, I will SAY how bad it hurts — because I have to get it out.  I am willing to shame myself if it means I’ll be free of the pain. I embarrass myself, show my failure, this never-ending battle of a marriage that on the surface — should have gone well.  It would be so much easier to see “the truth” had he been a cheat or a scoundrel.  If he’d been a lousy father or a drug addict.  He is not those things.  He is a good guy.  A good, handsome, sweetheart.  But it occurs to me that good guy or not — he’s destroying me.

So tonight — my options:  Quit my life or fight for my life. Lay down and die or get up and fight.  It’s no longer about my “marriage.”  The battle I face is not about marriage.  I don’t even know what marriage is anymore.  I’ve raised our kids by myself for so long now — what does it matter?  As long as I don’t say the word “divorce” everyone seems quite satisfied with the illusion.  So — I won’t say the word.

But the fight is within me.  The fight is something larger than a relationship.  Sure — the chips are down and stacked against me.  But the chips are against everyone.  Everyone.  Excuses are worthless.

My biggest threat?  Is giving in to sentiment.  I must be stronger than my sympathy, my self-pity, and worse — my guilt.

Years ago, I had a boyfriend — loved him, deeply — with all my heart.  But I knew he was all wrong for me, the drugs, the band, his ex-wife, his three children, his lack of direction, lack of interest in God, complete self-interest, but in the end it was the skirt chasing… that got me.  He was unfaithful.  That was the thing I couldn’t overcome.  That, and he had a vasectomy.  I wanted to have children.

One very bad day — I woke up.  From what I remember there were several bad days in a row, months of those bad days.  (I am slow when it comes to exiting “love.”)  But on the day I knew it was over, I thought my decision would end me.  I loved him.  I didn’t want to leave.

The choice had finally become clear then, too.  Who did I love more? Him or me?  If I stayed, it would kill me.  I would have nothing I wanted for my life.

But if I left, I would lose the man I loved. All I would gain would be the hope of becoming new, someday.

I left. It was horrible. Not a good end.  He has never spoken to me again.  Friendship — out of the question.  From what I’ve heard about him since, he married well.  He lives his life the same as he did when I was with him.  He plays music, has a boat and smokes a lot of pot. Good for him.  His wife makes the money.  His wife didn’t want children.  I did the man a favor.

In retrospect it was the right decision.  The wrong part of the decision was that I quickly entered into a new relationship.  Too soon.  I gave up on my dream of being an actress and replaced my love gone bad with new love, too soon.  That decision has brought me to where I am now.  I gave up on myself and devoted myself to another.

Stupid.

I should have sucked it up and endured the pain of loneliness.  I should have gone through it instead of trying to mask it, patch it — with new “love” and new false promises.  I should have given my dreams, my visions for myself a chance — but I was weak.

Tonight I ask myself which was worse?  The false promises said to me? Or the promises I made to myself and that I never fully pursued?  It is the second option that has brought me to my knees. I am to blame.  Now that I am down here — the lessons I needed to learn 20 years ago are still here.  Those lessons are much harder now.  I have mouths to feed, to clothe, to educate.  I have 5 beautiful people I need to teach, instill that honesty, gumption, hard work will go far.  I must teach them to be fearless, but wise, that they can be and choose anything they want  — but only if they put their whole 100% effort toward those goals.  I want them to know and somehow must teach that love does exist.  That love and happiness are attainable, but…

Never sell your soul.  Never give it away.  Their soul belongs to each of them and then to God – no one else.

So. Fight.  That’s what I am telling myself.  Fight.  Work.  Fight.  Reclaim my spirit and fight fearlessly.

and of course, I will pray.


Strong Morning … Coffee

belcuore-flight-controllerJust like magic.  I woke up this morning with new vigor.  I did something new:  I did not tune in to listen to the news.

Today, went to http://www.withoutabox.com and found festival contests I need to enter.  Deadlines set.

Registered at http://www.producertoproducer.com and am checking out the free budgeting templates. I have had the book for a while now, this time I will finish it.

I’ve done this stuff before and usually about now is when it gets dicey.  I get excited and then prematurely make phone calls, spreading my excitement around before it becomes real on my end.

This time: vowing to shut my mouth and get the job (one at a time) done.

I said my prayers and declarations out loud and “wrote” to my imaginary friend(s) for muse support.  It couldn’t hurt.

Other good news: I stepped on the scale and I’ve lost 3 pounds — Whew!  Seven more to go!